Monday, July 4, 2011

Mid Summer Update

Fresh local strawberries are one of the great pleasures of mid summer in New England!  Another is local corn, but we are still a few weeks away from that.  I  recently"discovered" Barret Hill Farm which is just 5 minutes up the road, from us, in Mason, NH,  where you can pick your own strawberries.  I say "discovered" because while I have known it was there for many years, I had never stopped in until last week.

Friend's Garden

Several of you responded to my last post with offers of sharing perennials.  Thank you for your generous offers!  And special thanks to Julie who has already made good on that offer, and given me divisions of iris, spiderwort, and coreopsis.  I had been referring to that area of the yard as "the cottage garden", but I think I will change the name to "Friend's Garden" since it is going to be populated with many plants from my friends. 

I have to tell you that I absolutely LOVE a plant that has a history and that so many of the garden's inhabitants will be from someone's garden (as opposed to getting them from Home Depot).  I brought a few plants from our old house, and among them are a couple of rhubarb plants that were from my late Memere Mercier's garden, and I will happily divide and share with anyone who wants some.

Interior Progress

While there has been a lot of focus on the outside of the house - we must take advantage of the summer weather - we have also continued to plug away at the interior.  So here is what we have been working on...

Pepper Mill Nook

Way back, a long time ago it seems, when we were doing the interior framing, I envisioned this shallow shelf tucked between to wall studs, to be a home for my pepper mill collection.
The actualization of this shelf was again surprisingly harder, and took longer than I ever anticipated, but is is finally finished.  So here is the story...

Dean is a big fan of this spray foam insulation, and uses it for many projects.  Here we used it to glue into place the 1/4 inch plywood that makes up the back of the shelf.

With the plywood in place, we turned out attention to the top, bottom and sides of the shelf.  We are using some of the baseboard trim stock for this.

Next we had to make the slots for the shelves to fit into.  This was a fairly involved process where we had to clamp both upright sections side by side so that the router cuts would be evenly aligned.

Ready to start cutting.

Finishing off the slots with a hand tool.

Checking out the fit.

I designed the shelf to have a little arch at the top.  Here we are working on that piece.

We put the shelves in place and it was at this point that we discovered that the opening in the wall was not square! I was BUMMED!  And yes, even though there is no crying in carpentry, I cried...

So we straightened it out by lifting one of the side pieces to get the shelves level, and nailed it in place...

...and filled the resulting 1/4 inch gap with wood putty.

A few beads of clear silicone helped to secure the shelves.

Drum roll please...    And here is the finished result.

Storage space

Because the upstairs rooms are built into the eaves of the house, the closets are smallish and somewhat limited in their storage capacity.  I wanted some more storage space in the bedroom, so I went to Craig's List to look for an armoire, and found this behemoth, very heavy piece. 

Here it is with its doors and drawers off.

We needed to get it upstairs, and would need some muscle to get it up there, so Eric and Julie came to the rescue!

We got it to this point, and we were stuck.  Julie is master-minding a plan...

The plan involved sawing off the feet - we would put them back on later.

Mission accomplished!  These are a couple of strong guys!

I am planning on painting this armoire, so stay tuned for the finishing chapter of this narrative.

A Tale of Two colors

Another interior project we have been working on is the upstairs South facing bedroom/guestroom/library with computer alcove.  You might recall that the plastering job had a lot of rough spots, pits, and gouges, so before paint there is a fair amount of prep work with sanding and spackling.  So here is the room, finally ready for paint.

I wanted to use warm colors in the is room, and because it has so much nice sunny light, I thought the room could handle a pretty saturated color, and planned to do most of the room in a warm beige, but wanted to give the window wall a nice punch of rich color. 

I have spent a lot of time reading design & color books, magazines and blogs looking for inspiration.  One of my favorite blogs being Color Zen.  But I found the color I was looking for in a Sunset Magazine article.

I have become a HUGE fan of Benjamin Moore paint, and so was happy to come across this article that had the color I wanted with the actual reference to the Benjamin Moore formula number.  The color is "Buttered Yam", also known as AF-230. 

So off to the paint store I went.  I decided to buy only one quart, just in case I did not like the color.  When I got it on the wall, it looked much different than I expected, but I did not dislike it.  When I went back to get a second quart, they were out of the paint base, so I ended up going to a different paint store.  Now I know that experts recommend that you get all the paint you need for a particular project all at the same time because there can be subtle differences in each batch, but this was dramatic.
Can you believe that these two are supposed to be the same color?

The second store that I went to, Economy Paint Supply, is my new paint store.  They actually opened the can after mixing, and checked to make sure it matched the color chip.

The final color is the one on the right, and and it looks really nice in the room!

Here is the first coat with color number one.

And the final coat.

Dean has also started working on the trim in this room.  Here is the windowsill going in.


We got finally the bench for the entry installed.

House Naming

I've decided to give our house a name.  Is this pretentious?  Is this completely dorky??  I am not sure, but I am doing it anyway.  I have always liked naming things.  Dean and I have names for all of our cars.  At our old house, we gave names to various sections of the woods behind our house, so we had some reference points.  For example, there was "the peeper pond", and "the chicane", and the "Ganong's stretch" named after a neighbor.

In the UK, there is a long tradition of naming homes, and in fact there are official Parliament guidelines and procedures.  In my Google search for more information regarding home naming, I came across this somewhat entertaining thread.  Confirmation that some people may think it is ridiculous to name a house.  But, OK, so why not be ridiculous??

Before we started living here, when we were working on the build, we had noticed a lot of ravens in the area.  Once we moved in, we noticed that we are on a Raven Commuter Route.  We see a convoy of them flying in one direction in the morning, and then see them come back in the evening.  And all day, we hear their various calls - of which there are many - coming from the area around Locke Brook (our brook).

Honestly, I did not intentionally set out to name the house. But rather, the name kind of found me, and after mulling over the concept of naming and the actual name for some time now, I've decided to go for it. And my lovely husband who indulges me in many of my wacky ideas, is once again going along with me on this...  And so we are naming our home RavensLocke.

One last thought regarding naming things so you won't think I am the only wack job living in this house!  Some of you already know that we have a penchant toward nudism, and love spending time on the clothing-optional section of Longnook Beach in Truro. 

Well, one of the ways Dean has been enjoying our nice private, out-of-the-site-of-neighbors property, is in the nude.  And he has decided to name this "The Naked Summer".  So there!

PS:  Beware if you come un-announced:  You might run in to a naked man!


  1. Thanks for the warning. We'll call ahead!


  2. PS The shelf looks great!

    Bert Again

  3. funny blog! and knowing my bro so well, made it just that much funnier!
    So happy we made it out to see you guys, thanks for the hospitality. The house looks awesome! love the peppermill shelf. final result, worth the tears!
    xxoo -P

  4. A business mans definition of nudity = the last step in reducing the barrier to entry...

    Awesome work!!

  5. Love RavensLocke!

    And LOVE the peppermill nook and bench > NICE!!